I don’t know about you, but I love finding myself in someone’s kitchen. Especially if it comes with a cup of tea and something fresh baked.

So I’d like to introduce you to our new series, In the Kitchen. A quick step into a virtual kitchen of sorts where we’ll feature recipes from special guests, regular contributors and readers.

Our first recipe comes from the kitchen of Cara Walen. Cara is editor of Stoneleighite, the Stoneleigh Community Newsletter, is a self-proclaimed mammarazzi (helps that her two kiddos are adorable) and local photographer who does ah-mazing portraiture work.

Lucky for us, she’s also a fabulous baker. Today she gives us a sneak peek into her kitchen… and is sharing her favorite lemon squares recipe.

ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks), plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • Lemon zest from one whole lemon (approx 2-3 teaspoons)
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello, or any lemon-flavored liqueur, optional but highly recommended!
  • Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

pan prep
Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter and line with 1 sheet of parchment paper. Butter the top of this sheet of paper with 1 teaspoon of the remaining butter and then lay a second sheet of parchment or waxed paper crosswise over the first sheet. The parchment should be cut large enough so that the sides are even with the top of the baking dish (this extra paper will function as handles to help you remove the lemon squares from the pan later. Set pan aside.  I use clothes pins to keep the paper nice and tight and out of my way until I get ready to bake it.

crust
In a large bowl combine 1 3/4 cups of the flour, 2/3 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, the cornstarch, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and mix thoroughly. Cut the remaining 12 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture.  Using your hands, 2 forks, a pastry blender or food processor, work the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the butter-flour mixture to the prepared baking dish and press into an even 1/4-inch layer along the bottom and partly up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  !  While the crust is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.   If you used clothespins, remove them before baking!  Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20- 25 minutes, depending on your oven. Be sure not to undercook.

filling
While the crust is baking, assemble the filling by combining the eggs, granulated sugar, flour, and lemon zest in a medium bowl and whisking until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, milk, limoncello, and remaining pinch of salt and mix well.  When the crust is golden brown, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Stir the lemon mixture again, then pour onto the warm crust. Bake until the filling is set, about 25 minutes, depending on your oven.  When filling is set in center, it is done.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Grasp the waxed paper that lines the 2 longest sides of the baking dish and remove the bars from the pan by pulling up gently. The entire dessert should easily dislodge and come away from the pan. Transfer to a cutting board and, using a clean knife, cut into squares, wiping knife after each cut. Place a small amount of confectioners’ sugar into a small sieve or shaker, and sprinkle the bars with the sugar.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate, wrapped with plastic wrap, until ready to serve.

editor’s note: These are DELICIOUS! Cara was kind enough to drop a bunch by my house — we loved them. A perfect combination of tart, tangy and sweet. Paired delightfully with a hot cup of tea. Want to contribute to In the Kitchen? Drop me an email at heather AT coolprogeny.com. Samples always appreciated. Just saying… 🙂